Macron in France faces voices of distrust over pension reform

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to face voices of no confidence early next week aimed at overthrowing his government and undermining his reform of France’s pension system.

A group of centrist lawmakers opposed to Macron filed a vote of no confidence on Friday with the support of at least 58 members of the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament. The far-right National Rally also filed its own vote of no confidence in the government on Friday.

The measures came less than 24 hours after Macron’s government invoked special constitutional powers to push through an increase in France’s retirement age without approval from the 577-member National Assembly.

The no-confidence motion led by the centrist group received support from the NUPES – a left-wing coalition of socialists, communists and greens. Far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon said NUPES decided on Friday to vote in favor of the centrists’ motion instead of filing its own motion to increase its chances of success.

Whether the center-left alliance will have enough votes in the National Assembly to overthrow Macron’s government depends on other lawmakers backing the move.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think will be the ripple effects of Macron’s decision to raise the country’s retirement age? Join the conversation below.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of National Rally, the largest opposition party in the National Assembly, has said her party would vote for any vote of no confidence against the Macron government.

The survival of the Macron government will likely depend on Les Républicains, France’s established conservative party. Les Républicains legislators hold the balance of power in a sharply divided chamber of the National Assembly.

Les Républicains leader Eric Ciotti supports raising the retirement age and has said he will not support a vote of no confidence. However, a group of dissident members within the party oppose Mr Macron’s plan and it remains unclear how many of them will vote in favor of the motions. At least 27 of the 61 Les Républicains legislators sitting in the National Assembly would have to vote against the government to force it to resign.

Macron’s pro-business Renaissance party has 170 seats in the National Assembly and is part of a larger coalition that includes centre-right parties and whose total seats reach 250.

Ms Le Pen tried to ramp up pressure on Conservatives by saying a refusal to support the no-confidence motion would mean they support the pension law, which is largely unpopular with the French and has sparked nearly two months of nationwide protests .

“Any Les Républicains legislators who will not vote for censorship will effectively allow the pension reform to pass,” Ms Le Pen wrote in a Twitter post on Friday.

Photo: Reuters/Stephane Mahe

On Friday, hundreds of protesters temporarily blocked the ring road in Paris as several dozen people poured onto the tracks at Bordeaux’s main train station, in southwestern France. A few thousand protesters took to the streets in Rennes, a city in western France. Unions are calling for new nationwide demonstrations on March 23.

Mr Macron’s aim to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 is at the heart of his plan to revamp the country’s pension system.

The overhaul was one of the key points of Mr Macron’s re-election campaign last year. He has argued that this is the only way to preserve France’s pension system without raising taxes or increasing the national debt.

Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt said in September that if a vote of no confidence passed, Mr Macron would dissolve the National Assembly, triggering new parliamentary elections. That has sent a chill through the ranks of Les Républicains, which is in the midst of an identity crisis.

Asked by reporters on Thursday if he would vote for the centrist group’s vote of no confidence, Les Républicains lawmaker Aurélien Pradié said: “I’m not ruling it out.”

Write to Noemie Bisserbe at nomenie.bisserbe@wsj.com and Matthew Dalton at Matthew.Dalton@wsj.com

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Leave a Comment